PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has licensed its first drug, a unique compound that targets cancer tumors by modifying the actions of proteins.
Today’s announcement is another key fulfillment of TGen’s primary mission: To move laboratory discoveries more rapidly into therapeutics that can immediately help patients improve their quality of life.
The drug, ONCO-101, is being licensed to Oncoholdings Inc., a Syracuse, N.Y.-based pharmaceutical company focused on the acquisition and development of innovative anti-cancer compounds.
Oncoholdings, in turn, has contracted with a TGen subsidiary, Scottsdale-based TGen Drug Development (TD2), to help guide continued pre-clinical tests, and eventually move ONCO-101 into first-in-human clinical trials, where it could immediate help cancer patients.
“This milestone is a significant accomplishment that validates the clinical groundwork we established when forming TGen,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director. “Because ONCO-101 could potentially change the way patients with ovarian and endometrial cancer are treated, we hope this is but the first of many compounds that benefit patients battling life-threatening illnesses.”
Licensing ONCO-101 comes nearly 9 years after the establishment of TGen, an integral piece of Arizona’s bioscience initiative. The goals of that initiative are to: enable scientific discoveries; improve the quality of health care, especially for Arizona residents; and diversifying the state’s knowledge-based economy.
Former Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza, a founding member of the TGen Board of Directors, said the licensing of TGen’s first drug shows that investing in knowledge-based businesses will benefit Arizonans for years to come.
“From the very start of then-Gov. Jane Hull’s Arizona BioInitiative Task Force, we had faith in Dr. Trent’s ability to help show that Arizona could be a national, and international, leader in bioscience research,” said Rimsza, now a member of the Board of Directors of the TGen Foundation. “Today’s announcement about ONCO-101 is the first of what we believe will be many new, highly-advanced treatments for a variety of diseases that will result from TGen’s intricate examinations of the human genome; our DNA.”
ONCO-101 was developed at TGen in the course of research into the design of drugs that selectively target key proteins involved in cancers.
TGen granted Oncoholdings the exclusive license to further develop ONCO-101, an epigenetic agent, or compound, that decides how active proteins become. Currently, there are only four epigenetic drugs on the market, and they are only approved to treat blood cancers. ONCO-101 would be the first epigenetic agent to attack solid tumors.
“This class of therapeutic agents has yet to find its place in the market for the treatment of solid tumors,” according to Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D. and Chief Operating Officer of Oncoholdings. “ONCO-101 works by allowing the regular function of normal cells, while disrupting the ability of abnormal cells to reproduce, effectively stopping the cancer.” Oncoholdings expects to announce the acquisition of its second group of products in the second quarter of 2011.
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Oncoholdings, Inc., is a pharmaceutical company focused on acquiring and developing the most promising preclinical and early clinical anti-cancer agents. Oncoholdings was founded by some of the world’s leading oncology scientists and leverages the unique insights and experiences of its founders and world-class scientific advisory board. For more information, visit: www.oncoholdings.com.
The Translational Genomics Research Institute is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.
TGen Drug Development (TD2) provides innovative services for oncology-focused biopharmaceutical companies using a dedicated team of professionals with broad experience and understanding in drug development. TD2, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is uniquely positioned to support the need for improved and accelerated development of new chemical entities (NCE’s) for life-threatening diseases. TD2 uses a unique combination of experience gained through its contract research organization business, and an integrated suite of proprietary and non-proprietary tools, preclinical study execution, regulatory affairs assistance, clinical trial design and management, and drug development experts to successfully move therapeutics towards regulatory approval. TD2 is dedicated to reducing the risks and uncertainty inherent in the drug development process. TD2 integrates world-class clinical and regulatory expertise with “-omic” science and provides unique drug development services aimed at minimizing the risk for clients in the Oncology drug development industry. TD2 is a non-profit subsidiary of the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). For more information, visit: www.td2.org.
TGen Senior Science Writer